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Economic Pinch Forces Sudan’s Hand

Sudan will expand its use of gold exports to cover imports of essential goods as it embarks on a new 2022 budget without foreign aid during an economic downturn after a coup. Billions of dollars of much-needed foreign assistance were cut after the Oct. 25 military coup that ended a power-sharing arrangement with civilians in a transition process since the 2019 overthrow of former ruler Omar al-Bashir. New directives call for 70% of gold export proceeds to be used on “strategic goods,” which typically include fuel and wheat, and the remainder on “necessary goods,” the finance ministry said in a statement late on Sunday. Other directives aim to reduce the time and fees involved in the gold export process. The budget passed last week aims to increase both expenditure and non-aid revenues by more than a third and envisages a deficit of $826.88 million. One of Africa’s main gold producers, Sudan officially exported 26.4 tonnes in the first 9 months of 2021 and 25.2 throughout 2020, Central Bank data shows. But officials estimate four times more is smuggled abroad.